Secret Revealed: Why Do Doctors Have Bad Handwriting?

Martha Martins
Oct 06, 2023 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Oct 13, 2021
Hand of doctor writing on prescription
Age: 3-18
Read time: 4.9 Min

Have you ever tried to read a doctor’s prescription and wondered why do doctors have bad handwriting?

Doctors' handwriting is sometimes used as a parameter for judging their level of competence in the medical field. Supposedly the sloppier a doctor's handwriting, the more that doctor has practiced in their field.

It is a kind of pre-requisite for a person to become a successful doctor if he or she possesses bad handwriting. Many people think that people with bad handwriting will become good doctors.

In reality, doctors have bad writing due to many reasons. The most common reason why doctors write with such bad handwriting is that they have the habit of taking down notes frequently.

In the course of becoming a licensed doctor, they have to pass many exams. The need for writing quickly does not end there. They have to practice in their respective fields for several years where they adopt the habit of writing essential information rapidly.

Since all medical information is critical, doctors must make sure they record every vital point. Because of this need for speed, they eventually start to write sloppy handwriting without realizing it.

After reading this article, you may also be interested in knowing why do moles grow hair and why do we fall.

How to read a doctor’s handwriting?

Doctors' handwriting is not legible enough to be understood by every person. The stereotype of doctors having bad handwriting is a strong one. But there are many doctors with good handwriting also. Most doctors write very quickly due to the large number of patients waiting in the hospital.

But the actual reason why normal people do not understand prescriptions from doctors is because of the use of medical terminology and abbreviations. Luckily, patients do not need to understand these abbreviations.

Medical terminologies used to describe a disease or medicine are widely known in the profession. But if you would like to understand a doctor’s written prescription, look for the initials of the medicine mentioned and the doses.

A doctor should never make errors in prescribing medicines and doses for a patient. Even minute errors can affect the health of the patient.

Look for the initials of the medicine mentioned with the dosage that needs to be taken. Luckily, pharmacists are very good at reading doctors' handwriting and spotting any possible mistakes in medicine type or dosing.

How do pharmacists read doctors' prescriptions?

Doctor filling in medical prescription

Today most doctors provide digital prescriptions to avoid any miscommunication between them and their patients. However, sometimes written prescriptions are still used.

These written prescriptions often have illegible handwriting. But if you give this written prescription to a pharmacist, they might easily understand what has been written. They then give you the correct medicines and explains to you how you should take them.

To effectively understand illegible handwriting of a doctor, search for the keywords and identifiable marks made by him or her in the prescription. Doctors are taught to write some essential words or units for doses very clearly.

Rather than writing the whole word, they use the abbreviated forms of many units. Pharmacists understand these short forms and are able to read the prescription effectively.

Though today electronic prescriptions are more in use, you should know how to understand a doctor's handwriting to avoid any mishap.

Doctors are taught in medical school to indicate the doses so that they can be understood by patients easily without errors. They are also taught not to compromise the health of the patient.

There should be no confusion about the dosage which needs to be taken so that the patient takes the correct amount. Taking the incorrect amount of medicine can make it ineffective or can harm the patient.

Why is a doctor's handwriting difficult to read?

There could be many reasons for a doctor to have bad handwriting. Most doctors' handwriting is difficult to read because of the habit of writing down a lot of information very quickly while they were in medical school.

They have to take notes in huge quantities. While studying for their exams, they practice writing a lot to increase their speed. It is one reason why they pick up the habit of writing sloppy handwriting.

Doctors have to write long letters and articles every day based on the research and work they are doing. In addition, they have many patients whom they have to treat each day.

As a result, they do not have much free time to dedicate to writing clearly for others. If a doctor cannot treat their patients in a timely manner, it can mess up their entire schedule.

These days, electronic prescriptions are more popular. But doctors with good handwriting are still awarded penmanship awards. This award is given to doctors who have legible and quality handwriting.

Reasons why a doctor’s handwriting is bad?

There are numerous reasons for a doctor to have bad handwriting. During the process of becoming doctors, they have to record and study a large amount of information.

They attend many conferences and take notes vital for their further research. It often does not matter if a doctor's writing is illegible to others as long as he or she and the pharmacists and nurses he or she works with understand it.

Many doctors see bad handwriting as a mark of honor as it indicates they invest more time in seeing patients than recording information.

Recording patients' information and writing prescriptions all day long can also tire out hand muscles needed to write legibly. As the day goes on and the writing requirements pile up, hand writing can get progressively worse.

Doctors are aware of this and find ways of ensuring the information is recorded properly no matter the time of day. While a patient might not be able to read a doctor's notes, rest assured the doctor can.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do doctors have bad handwriting then a look at why do we breathe, or why do men grow beards.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

Read full bio >